Karen heard music drifting up from the church basement. It wasn't Mrs. McCardle practicing today. The church organist played piano accurately and deliberately. There was no love in Mrs. McCardle's playing―music was just a job to her. Whoever was playing the Bach prelude, was playing with passion and devotion. The music sounded like praying.
Karen waited in the stairwell until it was quiet. The piece was so lovely, she half expected to hear applause when it was over. Instead, it ended in an awkward, naked silence.
She pushed the old metal fire door open. Danny was sitting at the battered spinet.
“That was you?”
“Is it already 10:00?” he asked checking his watch to cover his discomfort. Karen had offered to help set up the hall for a CYO dance.
“I'm a little early. Sorry. I had no idea you played.”
“My mother made me take lessons.”
“I don't remember that.”
Danny blushed slightly, “I used to carry a pair of boxing gloves with me when I went. I let the neighborhood kids believe I was training. I knew they'd give me a hard time.”
“Did you tell her you wanted to quit?”
“I didn't want to quit. I just didn't want to get beat up. I loved piano. It took me out of that neighborhood, you know?”
“Did you ever play professionally?”
“I don't like to play for other people. The only person I ever played for was Mum and she's gone.”
“When did she die Danny?”
“While I was away at seminary.”
“That's when my mother died too. Do you think it's easier to lose someone when you're religious?”
“No. Knowing that someone has gone someplace good doesn't make them any less gone.”
He put his hands on the keys.
“This was her favorite,” he said as he began to play. This time, the music sounded like a confession.
If you're interested in reading more about Karen, she has her own page on this blog. You can check it out here. The title of this story comes from an old episode of MASH. I'm linking up this week with Write on Edge and Trifecta. Trifecta gave us the word "deliberate" for inspiration. Write on Edge gave us the word "orphan" and this picture: